Kitsap economic alliance wins grant, award

The state Department of Commerce has announced that the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance has been awarded a two-year $500,000 grant to launch the Washington Autonomous Vehicle Cluster, or WAV-C.

Innovation cluster accelerator models bring key players together – business, entrepreneurs, academia, investors and government – to solve industry challenges that limit growth and innovation. Nine innovation clusters are being funded in diverse industries, including advanced computing, 5G, renewable energy, bioscience and others. KEDA developed the WAV-C proposal with a focus on accelerating the industry of unmanned and autonomous vehicles, forecast as a $2 trillion global market by 2030.

“KEDA’s proposed launch concept for WAV-C is to initially focus on the water segment of these vehicles, given the strong maritime and defense industry presence in our community,” KEDA executive director Joe Morrison said. The underwater segment of unmanned vehicles alone has a projected size of $9.5 billion by 2028.

The WAV-C initiative received 23 letters of support. Developing and expanding corporate partnerships will be a top priority. KEDA anticipates hiring two full-time staff.

“Strategic investment to support innovation in key legacy and nascent industries is a pillar of our economic development strategy to strengthen Washington communities for the future,” Commerce director Lisa Brown said.

Meanwhile, KEDA also was recently recognized by the leaders of the Washington Economic Development Association during its 2022 Winter Conference in Olympia for outstanding achievement. They won the Economic Development Award for Economic Response & Recovery for their #Shop.Eat.Spend. Kitsap County social media campaign.

Theresa Mangrum, KEDA communications manager, said: “We ramped up our #Shop.Eat.Spend.Kitsap campaign for year two of the pandemic because we knew that the 2021 holiday season was going to be “make it or break it” for many of the small shops, galleries, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants that are the lifeblood of our communities. Our goal was to create an emotional response and get people to realize how vital their patronage is to their downtown businesses, and to help them remember that small businesses are their neighbors, and community members.”

Founded in 1983, KEDA focuses on partnering with business and government to retain, expand and attract employers to Kitsap.

Editor’s note: Sound publisher Terry Ward is on the KEDA board.